Spelunky Completed In The Hardest Possible Way

By Graham Smith on November 14th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Solo Aubergine Run, technically.

Some of you are going to think this isn’t news, but I want to talk about it anyway. Caster Bananasaurus Rex has completed Spelunky in a Solo Eggplant Run. Don’t know what that means? Come inside. Sit down. Let me explain.

As reported by Eurogamer, here’s the video, which is an hour and twenty-two minutes long. Don’t watch it. I’ll explain why.

Spelunky is a roguelike platformer. It’s arguably the reason why we’re now inundated with new, accessible roguelikes. It was first released as a free, Game Maker-made PC game in 2009, before a console, HD remake updated the art style and added co-op in 2012, and a PC release of that came in August.

Part of Spelunky’s charm – aside from being essentially perfect – is in its secrets. At some point during one of the four levels in each of its four worlds, you’ll encounter a door that will take you to a Black Market, a castle, a spaceship, or the belly of a worm. Inside you’ll find a unique item or a unique character, a reward for daring to enter into even more deadly parts of the game.

That’s just the beginning of the secrets that lie within Spelunky’s deep caves. Every time I talk to someone who has just completed the game – an act that can take thousands of attempts, and dozens or hundreds of hours of learning and practice – they follow it up with a variation on the same sentence. “But I haven’t completed it this way yet.” I haven’t been to the City of Gold yet. I haven’t done a complete Hell run yet. There’s always something more to be accomplished and discovered.

The pinnacle of that, the very peak of madness, is the eggplant. In Spelunky HD, if you sacrifice a still-wrapped mystery box on one of Kali’s altars, you get a purple eggplant. What does it do? Nothing, as far as anyone could tell. The plant was added in Spelunky HD, but it wasn’t until its PC release, and Cheat Engine hacking, that anyone worked it out. It was a secret that lasted over a year, which in a post-GameFAQs world, is a millennia.

I won’t say what it does or the exact process, but it’s long, arduous, and not at all beneficial to players. The challenge became about whether anyone could use it without cheats. Two people did it in co-op and then, even more unlikely, Bananasaurus did it in a solo run. He’s the first person to do so, or at least the first person to do it while recording.

Which, I guess, as far as anyone knows, means that all of Spelunky’s secrets have now been discovered and publicly accomplished. I can’t help but feel a little bit melancholic about that.

When I first started playing Spelunky, there was no community or website around it. There was just a TIGSource forum thread with a download link. When I first reached beyond level four, and reached world two, it was the first time I discovered there was a world two. That slow process of discovery was what hooked me through thousands of miserable, hilarious deaths.

That feeling won’t have been there for most of the people who played its HD incarnation, as trailers, YouTube videos and a larger audience disseminated information everywhere. But there were still secrets to be found for yourself, if you avoided particularly long YouTube videos, and there was still the eggplant, which remained a secret to everyone.

Spelunky is still brilliant. There will still be joy in navigating its rigid, knowable enemies and traps, on top of its unknowable, surprising, procedurally-generated levels. Secrets also exist to be discovered. That’s the fun of them, and it’s thrilling that recent roguelikes – and the likes of Dark Souls – have provided such a rich vein of secrets to be obsessed over. I love that there’s videogame myths. And you don’t have to watch the video above and find out all of Spelunky’s secrets, if you don’t want to. You can go play it instead.

But the eggplant video feels like a full stop on something, and so I wanted to mark it with a post.

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55 Comments »

  1. yusefsmith says:

    Shit like this is why I still read RPS… but I still don’t know WTH you are TAB

  2. Inzimus says:

    haven’t played it, since ‘back when’ (before the HD-remake), but props to the creator for the Kid Icarus homage

  3. altum videtur says:

    inb4 pendant

  4. Oozo says:

    Tom Francis said good words recently, too, about those aspects of Spelunky: “”A weird modern equivalent of folklore, an elaborate story about secrets and artifacts that’s passed from person to person by excitement.”

    Those myths, that folkolore… it’s one of the things I cherish the most in videogames, and something that has become harder and harder to achieve. Back in the pre-internet days, when all you had to discover the secrets in a game like Zelda was a close-knit community of children in a village… well, games really felt like a frontier then, an opportunity for discovery that is hard to come by these days. As you said, a few games tried it, Fez, Dark Souls, La Mulana, Mirror Moon… But to actually experience that kind of magic, you basically only have three options these days:
    a) you have to be among the first to play a game
    b) you have to seek out very obscure games
    c) you have to have very strong self-control for not looking up everything.

    It’s rare, but whenever I can be part of that adventurous spirit of discovery, it feels magical.

    PS Adam, I still am waiting for the article you wanted to write about how all of this makes for an essential multiplayer aspect of the Souls games.

    • lowprices says:

      I watched two of Tom Francis’ Spelunky videos recently, and learnt more of the games’ secrets than I had in several hours of gameplay. I wasn’t even aware of the castle or hell until then. Having said that, I only completed the game the ‘normal’ way for the first (and so far, only) time recently, so the chance of me acting on those secrets is pretty slim.

    • Doctor Pandafaust says:

      I totally agree!
      This was an unexpected advantage for me of some of the recent ‘episodic’ games. The wolf among is is probably the one most people are familiar with, though it is limited enough in its linearity that most people choose the same path. I also recently played a delightful indie production called Leviathan: Last day of the decade. There are several choices which carry from episode to episode with uncertain consequences. Even though the ultimate path is linear, it’s exciting that there is nobody in the world who knows what will happen in the next episode if say, you give the annoying but hot girl your money to invest; or kindle a relationship with various people.

    • Synesthesia says:

      To me, dayz had a lot of this feel, in the beggining. Finding a map, not knowing every spawn point. Powergaming ruined it completely, with everybody having a map on his second monitor or on the steam overlay. A shame.

  5. killias2 says:

    I’m going to put my pedant hat on and argue against calling Dark Souls a roguelike. Otherwise, good article. I really need to play Spelunky.

    • Philotic Symmetrist says:

      I will support you and your pedant hat in this matter since Dark Souls has neither permadeath nor procedural generation (although it does manage the feel of significance and consequence to your actions…hmmm, food for thought). Also, Rogue Legacy really doesn’t have permadeath either (dying in Rogue Legacy is more like resting at a bonfire, you get levels and enemies respawn).

      (Although I should also admit I was actually sticking around in case it was necessary to defend the term roguelike platformer, which I think is perfectly valid, via comparison with adventure vs action adventure genres)

      • killias2 says:

        At least Rogue Legacy still has randomization. But yeah, Dark Souls doesn’t really have any element of a roguelike except that death is meaningful. That’s something that’s also true of, say, some of the Dragon Quest/Warrior games. When you die, you lose gold but show up at the last place you rested, IIRC.

        • Philotic Symmetrist says:

          Rogue Legacy does have some degree of randomisation, though for me the importance of the random elements of Roguelikes is that you have to adapt your approach according the conditions you encounter on your run. So each run will be a bit different. The randomisation in Rogue Legacy never forced a different approach (you even know where to go to get to each different area). The biggest effect it had for me is finding a fairy chest which required/ benefited from a particular setup so I’d remember to use that setup and fix the layout next run to get the chest.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      Nor is Spelunky a roguelike. At the point where he called Dark Souls a roguelike I figured he was just trying to provoke a response. It seems to be something RPS are keen on doing these days.

      I know a few streamers who seem to be good at Spelunky and have tried eggplant runs on numerous occasions but have never even been close to getting it done so I’m guessing that’s a pretty damn hard thing to do.

      • Philotic Symmetrist says:

        It definitely is a platformer-roguelike or roguelike-platformer however; compare The Legend of Zelda (an action-adventure game) with Tales of Monkey Island (an adventure game); that one word changes the style of gameplay dramatically and, I would argue, even more than it does in this case.

        And whether or not it’s a roguelike depends on if you accept the Berlin Interpretation, don’t accept the Berlin Interpretation, accept it strictly to the point where you require that all of the high value factors are present or accept it even more strictly such that you accept that the Berlin Interpretation itself does not require every high value factor to be present or who knows how many other ways of looking at it.

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      Except he didn’t call Dark Souls a roguelike. He said “roguelikes – and the likes of Dark Souls” which implies that they are two separate entities. One being the genre of roguelikes, and the other being games like Dark Souls. Otherwise, the sentence is redundant and the use of the phrase “the likes of Dark Souls” does not make sense. He would have to say “roguelikes like Dark Souls” or “roguelikes including Dark Souls” for the meaning you took to make any sense.

  6. DrScuttles says:

    By the time Dark Souls came to the PC, the wikis were full to the infogills with its secrets. Sure, a lone player with strong willpower could stay away from such things, but that person would not be me. I think the Pendant was the main conundrum left.
    Or to muse upon another videogame curiosity; the Dam level in Goldeneye’s little inaccessible island. It’s sad in a way when something like that is figured out and solved. The mysteries are often far more engaging than the explanations.

  7. GameCat says:

    I love games with secrets and myths. I think this is probably the main reason why I love this medium. In movies, books and music you can’t really add such a thing.
    I think I’ve started with jumping over the flag pole in Super Mario Bros.

  8. MOKKA says:

    It’s interesting how rarely game developers decide to put secrets like this into their games.

  9. Low Life says:

    I was feeling very dejavuish for a moment, and then I realized that this was another one of those sneaky Graham Smith articles.

    More on topic, I think there’s something missing in the gamer part of my brain as I find it impossible to get myself into that “But I haven’t completed it this way” state. Every time I start another playthrough of Deus Ex I consider playing it in a different way, but end up sneaking around and hacking because that’s just the most fun way to play the game. I’ve never played a psi character in System Shock 2, instead I always pump all my points into agility and melee skills. I’ve never left Kaidan on Virmire, because I hate Ashley. After finishing Dark Souls (killing the last boss), I uninstalled the game without even considering playing as another type of character.

    What I’m saying is, imposing restrictions on my playstyle does not immediately increase the amount of enjoyment I get from a game, so I just end up playing the game in a way that has already proven to be fun.

    • Hieronymusgoa says:

      I am like you when it comes to games: You simply have seen most stuff after one playthrough, period.
      I even play Bioware games only once completely. The other endings I look up. I had MY story, I just want to be generally informed about other ways to do it.
      And I simply have too many games (damn you, steam-sale*shakesfist*) which I am already not finishing let alone playing the ones I manage to complete over and over again.

  10. Serenegoose says:

    I was watching this run a short while after it came out. My heart was going a fair bit too, even though I knew he won at the end. Really excellent stuff.

  11. Eukatheude says:

    How is Dark Souls a roguelike? There’s no random generation in it, at all.

    • GameCat says:

      You die a lot before you learn how to deal with certain enemies/situations.

    • Philotic Symmetrist says:

      No permadeath either although it does have the feeling of significance and consequence to your actions which usually results from permadeath and random generation. I’m not sure what exactly I think of that regarding roguelikeness (disclosure: I call games like BoI, FTL and Spelunky Roguelikes but not Dark Souls or Rogue Legacy).

  12. Keiggo says:

    In case any of youse guys are interested, we’ve got a fun Spelunky Daily Challenge site set up so we can compare runs and compare notes. We’re always looking for new Spelunky friends. Hope to see some of you there!

    http://spelunkydailychallengers.com/

  13. Asokn says:

    On the topic of gaming urban legends, this really weird story about a morrowind mod is my favourite:

    http://inuscreepystuff.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/jvk1166zesp.html?m=1

  14. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Now the real challenges remain. Like the One-handed, monitor upside down and jump key bound to printer ink level run.

  15. LionsPhil says:

    This would go faster if he wasn’t insisting on getting the ghost to upgrade all the gems. For buying the eggplant, sure, if you need the budget, but past that?

    • Dezmiatu says:

      He needed to buy the Ankh to unlock hell, and he wanted extra funds in case there was items to buy to improve his chances at success. Notice how the ghosting ends after the Black Market (the room with all the shops).

    • Baboonanza says:

      YEah, the second half of the vid is much more entertaining.

      Having played (and completed all challenges in) the free version but not the HD version the addition of the ghost & diamond thing seems like a really poor addition. I can see the idea of adding some risk/reward but having to spend all that time hanging around and directing the ghost makes the early levels really boring.

      • blind_boy_grunt says:

        the ghost isn’t new.

      • Veovis Muaddib says:

        The ghost has always been there, and it has always transmuted gems into diamonds. In fact if I recall it was MORE powerful in the original, as the ghost would convert gems whether they were loose or inside the walls, while in the newer release only loose gems are transmuted.

    • Veovis Muaddib says:

      The eggplant is as fragile an item as is possible. Stealing from shopkeepers would have endangered it further, a single stray bullet would have ended the entire run. (And has done so in many, many attempts at this by others.)

      Ghosting ensures enough money to at least purchase everything he needs in the black market. Once he has supplies enough to ensure a chance of success, the ghosting stops. Sure it’s boring, but it was absolutely necessary.

    • The Random One says:

      So THAT’s why he was whipping all the gems along. See, Graham, I can still have some mystery in my games even though I watched the hardest possible run, because I can’t tell why he’s doing half of what he’s doing!

  16. strangeloup says:

    Talking of Dark Souls, is it completely bloody broken for anyone else? Crashes on startup for me now for some reason, which I suspect is the grim spectre of GFWL.

    Also came here to say that the article gave me slight WoW flashbacks, because I would read Auberdine as Aubergine about 70% of the time.

  17. Arcadia says:

    Wow. Now the only thing left is beating hell with the sextant.

  18. grrrz says:

    Is this called an easter eggplant?

  19. Warduke says:

    Wow, this reminds me how much I totally suck at Spelunky.

  20. midhras says:

    A millenniUM.
    - I am SO sorry.

  21. DatonKallandor says:

    Goddamn the Spelunky remake art style is ugly as sin. It looks like they replaced a defined style for random sprites drawn by a dozen different people that never talked to each other – and even then they’re ugly without comparing them to each other.

    • Veovis Muaddib says:

      I wouldn’t be quite as vicious about it, but I did like the old style better. The new version does have better gameplay than the original though, and the Daily Challenge is a pretty nice feature.

      I still wish there were some decent content mods for the new one though. All I’ve found are texture mods and alternate localization files.

  22. drvoke says:

    Nobody is calling Dark Souls a roguelike. Graham is saying it has a lot of “secrets”, like many of the new Roguelike-alikes, not that it is a roguelike. Unless it’s been edited for clarity since all the “Souls is not a roguelike” comments, in which case disregard.

  23. Janvier123 says:

    “Two people did it in co-op…”

    Here is the link